The KTM Dukes are all fun motorcycles. They are the kind of bikes that constantly nudge you to twist that right wrist all the way, all the time. And you tend to give in sooner rather than later because deep down you want that, too. One of the reasons why that character is present throughout the Dukes, and indeed all KTM motorcycles, is probably because this Austrian bike maker ensures that everyone from the top bosses to the assembly line employees ride motorcycles. Pretty cool, huh!
So, when I swung my leg over the new 125 Duke and thumbed the starter, I already knew what was in store for me. But before I get to the riding bit of the motorcycle, let me quickly list the new things on the 125 Duke. The first thing you’ll notice is the fresh styling; while I am still a fan of its predecessor’s looks, the 2021 iteration has given the baby Duke a new lease of life. You’ve got sharp lines regardless of which side you look at it from, aggressive tank extensions, an exposed split-trellis frame, a split seat, and as always a minimalist use of body panels. While owners of the 200 and 250 Dukes might frown at the near-identical design, 125 Duke buyers are in for a win here.
Adopting the new design language has also resulted in changes to the riding triangle and a few other dimensions. The seat is now wider which gives the rider more space to move around in, and it’s also taller, taking the seat height to 818 mm. While the footpeg position remains the same, the added recess around the tank and the seat design lets one grip the tank better. Speaking of which, the 14.5-litre fuel tank, too, is borrowed from the bigger Dukes.
Now underneath all that new bodywork and frame, the 125 Duke remains essentially the same. The liquid-cooled DOHC four-valve motor is rev-friendly and is capable of being ridden at full clip all day long. The 6-speed gearbox is slick with positive shifts on every tap. Being a 125cc unit, expecting that immediate acceleration from a standstill like other KTMs would be wrong. It’s a bit different with the baby Duke; different because until 6000 rpm the engine feels calm and composed with not much engagement from the bike. Past that, it unravels its true DNA with a spirited nature eager to redline every gear before ultimately maxxing out at 115 kph.
What the 125 Duke lacks in power it makes up for with agility. With its premium cycle parts and a well-designed chassis, this Duke is a riot to play with on the streets. With the limited power, you can’t overshoot a corner, but can rather ride close to the capabilities of the suspension and chassis, and enjoy it to the fullest. And this setup is the ideal one for any budding motorcyclist who wants to ride faster and safer in the long run.
In conclusion, the 125 Duke is a fantastic bike for a newbie to start on. It has the tech, sufficient power and a premium feel. But most importantly, it is equipped with premium parts that make the whole experience safer and worthwhile. However, for an asking price of Rs 1.51 lakh (ex-showroom), the 125 Duke is expensive to purchase if not to maintain. Better behave nicely for a couple of months before taking your parents to the KTM showroom, then.
KTM 125 DUKE
Displacement: 124.71cc, single
Max power: 14.3 bhp@9250 rpm
Max torque: 1.22 kgm@8000 rpm
Type: Steel split-trellis
(F/R): 300-mm disc / 230-mm disc
(F/R): 110/70 R17 / 150/60 R17
L/W/H (mm): 1993/789/1083
Wheelbase: 1366 mm
Ground clearance: 155 mm
Seat height: 818 mm
Kerb weight: 159 kg
Fuel capacity: 14.5 litres
PRICE: Rs 1.51 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)